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Divorce rate falling, figures show

Northern Ireland's divorce rate is falling, it has been revealed.

Almost 2,200 couples officially split last year, nearly 600 fewer than in 2008, according to new statistics.

The number of marriages dissolved last year was 2,176. The average time married couples spent together before deciding to go their separate ways was just under 18 years.

Around 15% of the divorces related to weddings which took place outside Northern Ireland, mostly because one of the partners had been living in another country.

Just under 3,900 children and stepchildren, a majority of them aged under 18, were affected by the break-ups, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

Fewer people got married last year as well.

Just under 8,000 were registered, including 1,200 in August, which was the most popular month for wedding ceremonies, with the third Saturday the number one choice as the date for walking down the aisle.

There were 96 civil partnerships, up 10 from 2008.

Couples are also waiting longer before exchanging their vows. The average age for the groom is now 33 compared with 28 in 1989. The average age of the bride is 31 compared with 26.

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